Throughout the past year, Co-op Members have been working with us so we can provide communities with the help and support they need to grow. 

It’s thanks to our members for shopping with us that we’ve been able to partner with like-minded organisations through our Community Partnerships Fund to deliver on our three focus areas – creating access to education and employment opportunities for young people, access to food, and access to mental wellbeing support. 

This year, the Community Partnerships Fund has enabled us to partner with environment charity Hubbub, Mind, SAMH and Inspire, and also The Youth Endowment Fund to tackle the big issues facing our society today. 

As the fund is supported by members, they help shape what they want it to deliver too. So, over the past 12 months, we’ve been engaging members in conversations and online workshops to explore how Co-op can come together with our members to make a difference across our three themes. 

Here’s an update on the work that we’ve done together so far and what’s coming up next. 

ACCESS TO EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE 

With the pandemic affecting education and employment opportunities for many young people, our Co-op Young Members’ Group (CYMG) has been working with members to explore what Co-op and its partners can do together to create fairer access to education and employment for young people in our communities. 

Through the Community Partnerships Fund, we’ve partnered with Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) the #iwill Fund, investing £5.1 million to give young people the chance to have their voices heard, make their communities safer and fairer places to live. 

WORKING TOGETHER WITH OUR MEMBERS 

In November last year, more than 5,000 members joined in to share their future hopes for young people and to explore what both Co-op and its members could do to help achieve this. 

Access to opportunities, skills, work experience and technology all came out as key themes with many members wanting to offer their expertise and experience to support young people through the help of Co-op. 

In May, the CYMG ran an online workshop with members and young people to help us begin to explore the ways we could work together to tackle some of these issues. 

During the discussions, participants identified seven potential areas of focus. From providing meaningful work experience, having a voice and career support, to access to coaching and mentoring and life skills, members shared some great suggestions about how best we could meet young peoples’ needs. 

The workshop outputs were shared and reviewed by members, young people, and our Co-op leaders over the summer to help narrow down the focus to just one area. 

The overarching steer from members was around skills, so our CYMG have been busy developing a project that members can really get involved in. 

By sharing their knowledge, offering support, mentoring, and giving advice around jobs and other life skills via an online platform, members will create a library of digital resources that young people can access and learn from. 

The project, which will launch in January, will connect and build on Co-op’s existing careers and skills activity, and wider virtual work experience programme. 

ACCESS TO MENTAL WELLBEING SUPPORT 

Following a challenging 18 months, members have been working with us to develop a programme of activity that aims to bring communities together to support mental health and wellbeing. 

Through our partnership with Mind, SAMH and Inspire, we’ve funded new services across the UK designed to build resilience and support wellbeing thanks to the £6 million fundraised by our members, customers, and colleagues through our Community Partnership Fund. 

MEMBERS OFFER SUPPORT TO EACH OTHER 

Members suggested we should create some resources to help support members, friends, family and their local community and they’ve been helping us with these resources. They helped give us advice about content and promotion at our recent Join in Live events too. 

Next year, members will have the chance to get even more involved as we look to support conversations around mental health and break down the barriers about talking about how we are feeling in the lead up to Time to Talk Day in February. 

ACCESS TO FOOD 

The funds members generate every time they shop with us has funded a new partnership with environmental charity Hubbub to fast-track the expansion of their Community Fridge Network across the UK 

Together, we’ve created more places where communities can share and access healthy food, connect with each other and learn new skills.  

The £500,000 partnership has enabled us to provide 100 communities fridges by 2022, saving 6.8 million meals per year from going to waste. 

JOIN IN WITH FOOD 

Following conversations and ideas from members we’re exploring how we can help our members and customers come together to share recipes, hints and tips around food waste, ethical food, and healthy eating.  You should also look out for some exciting activity as we run up towards Christmas in support of our Hubbub partnership. 

YOUR CHANCE TO GET INVOLVED 

Members have come up with some great ideas for how we deliver better opportunities for young people, fairer access to food and wellbeing support but we need our members to help drive those forward and to help bring them to life in your communities.  Keep an eye out in January for more details on how you can get involved. 

In the meantime, if you’d like to lend your support and make a real difference today, you can donate some or all of your membership reward directly to the Community Partnerships Fund via your online membership account

There are always opportunities for Co-op Members to get involved in their Co-op. Find out what’s available now by joining in on your online Membership account.  

Mark Robinson-Field 

Member Participation Manager 

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Whilst I welcome communication there is no reference to local activities which was the watchword of co-operation.
    I prefer to donate to local causes as Manchester is too North West focussed

    Reply
    • Hi Roger – thanks for the message. I think the great thing is that you can do both. Members can continue to choose their local causes for support and they fund those every time they shop and swipe their membership card. This additional funding is allocated to support those bigger issues that can only be tackled with co-operation between and across communities. So our members get the best of both.

      Reply

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